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Chester County Press

Seminars on retirement living to target Baby Boomers

03/15/2016 12:49PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

For the generation raised on the dream of possibilities, freedom and peace, an ironic twist on these promises is happening in homes all over America.
Their homes are becoming architectural war zones. Staircases, once easy to ascend, now seem to have the slope of the Parthenon steps. Back yards once manageable appear to have grown to the size of national parks, and Junior's room resembles an unused shrine to a son who hasn't lived there since 1995.
In short, Baby Boomers -- those born between 1946 and 1964 -- are a generation caught in a crisis, unsure of not only where they should live, but how. 
Kennett Square architect Dennis Melton has some possible solutions to the dilemma.
He will offer four free seminars, titled “Intergenerational Design for Comfortable Living,” beginning in late March to address how empty-nesters and those with aging parents can better accommodate their needs.'
The schedule is:
March 29 – “How to Accommodate Staying in Your Home, With Simple Changes”
April 26 – “New Home for a Lifetime”
May 24 – “Small Town Independent Living”
June 28 – “Resources: Help Around the House, Transportation, Meal and Care Giving.”
“The question that comes up the most is, 'How long do I think I can remain in my home as I get older?'” Melton said. “A lot of people assume that they have to move out at some point to go to a retirement home. Generally, I'm advocating that most people don't need to do that so soon.”
Melton believes that a lot of Baby Boomers haven't taken the time to explore other options -- such as downsizing to a smaller home, or retrofitting their existing one.
"We learn from our behaviors from our parents, and for the parents of Baby Boomers, they saw a retirement home as their only option," Melton said. "I'm trying to break those patterns, particularly in terms of finding the right fit for what people want and need for the rest of their lives."
One of the subjects that Melton will discuss is encouraging Baby Boomers to abandon the sprawling acreage of suburbia for the connectivity of a small town.
"That's when you begin the atrophy of your mind, and I see that happening with a number of people," Melton said. "It's one of the reasons I'm excited about bringing these people to small towns, which provide a smaller living space, but be a social environment that lends support without it being institutional support.
Selling off a suburban home in favor of a smaller home close to coffee shops, night life, shopping and activities may serve as the new launch pad of living for some active seniors, Melton said. It's part the intergenerational concept that links active seniors with young, urban professionals who are moving to -- and reinvigorating -- small towns.
For people who want to explore ways to redesign their current home, however, Melton will devote one presentation to how people can repurpose their existing home -- or work with an architect on the development of a smaller home -- to accommodate their changing lifestyle.
"Anybody can focus on renovating or building a new home that will be comfortable for a longer period of time," Melton said. "If you look at the full cost of going to a retirement home, it's often unaffordable, so when you compare that with the cost of renovating your home to make it comfortable for several years, it's often less expensive, or at least on a par."
Each hour-long seminar will begin at 7 p.m. at Melton Architects (206 N. Union St., Kennett Square). To register, call 610-444-8538, or email
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email


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